I have been in the habit of just putting out a monthly newsletter so as not to inundate you all with Cancer Couch news. However, this NEWS is just too good to wait on. Before I get into it though, above is a photo from The Cancer Beat - featured here (from left to right), the hysterical comedian and my friend and co-host Christine O'Leary, Dr. Sarat Chandarlapaty of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, me (in the middle of my favorite smarty pants sandwich), and Dr. Nikhil Wagle of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This is from the absolutely incredible night of The 3rd Annual Cancer Beat which took place in Fairfield, CT on September 8th. The evening was a huge success in every way. It was so much fun from start to finish. We laughed, we cried, we danced, we loved, we LIVED. We honored my friend Beth Caldwell who died this past year from MBC leaving two young kids and a wonderful husband along with a powerful and astonishing legacy. She was one of the smartest, sweetest, most badass women I've ever met and one of the most impactful MBC advocates to date. She lit a fire in me from our first phone call that I could not help but take as a call to action to do something to help extend the lives of those struck with metastatic breast cancer. I did not know then that just three years after that first phone call that prompted me to dedicate my life to funding research for MBC treatment, my ENTIRE life would be riding on the chances of one experimental research trial working.
I announced in the room Saturday night that I had learned three weeks prior that my cancer had spread to my brain, bones, liver and adrenals. I shared this so people could understand the reality of how quickly stage 4 cancer can spread and how desperately you need something, anything, to work when it does. I found out, while I was in Brazil this summer, that I qualified for a trial precisely targeted to a certain mutation present in my tumors. This mutation wasn't there initially - when I was diagnosed three years ago - but thankfully and miraculously, it is now. I knew if it worked, it would be like hitting the genetic lottery. It just had to work.
I had four scans this past Thursday, 28 days into the new trial. I know we don't and can't always get what we want, but I hoped and prayed with everything I have that what I wanted and what I needed would be the same thing. This time, they were. My oncologist called me first thing Friday morning to share the amazing news that not one, but every single area of cancer was shrinking. In 28 days. Tonight I went on the patient portal to check my tumor markers from blood work done today. They are all back within normal limits. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I could get yet another lease on life this late in the game when things looked so bleak just weeks ago. I know it is a trial and I know I continue to live month by month, scan by scan and I hate that there are thousands of people out there getting the opposite of this kind of news today. My heart breaks for every single one of them and for those we keep losing to this disease (one person every minute worldwide). I want nothing more than for this kind of medicine to be available to everyone. Please know, I am here fighting for you, fighting for me, fighting for all of us to have a better chance. This October, please consider making a donation to The Cancer Couch or any other foundation that focuses on metastasis. No one is cured from cancer until we are all cured. Research is vital.
Oh wait - the karma part! Well, before I got cancer and started this foundation - Tom and I always contributed to our favorite charity - Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation run by Liz & Jay Scott (Alex's parents) with whom I grew up. Well, when Liz heard about my good news Friday, she shared the amazing fact that ALSF funded a study of the drug I am on, for kids, way back in the lab as it was just developing. Their funding of this study allowed for a significantly more robust data set and therefore got it moved on through the trial phases much faster (ultimately literally just in time for me to get on it exactly when I needed it!). I never would have imagined, sitting at the Lemon Ball all those years ago- cancer free at the time - potentially even donating money that may have gone to this - that my life would potentially be saved by something they were funding. AMAZING. We are all in this together. All of it. THANK YOU ALL so much for your help, support, love and extreme generosity at The Cancer Beat and all year to help fund the incredible work our researchers are doing.
A big thank you also goes out to G.Love & Special Sauce (Lead singer Garrett featured here) for putting on such a great show at The Cancer Beat and bringing so much heart, soul and great vibes to the event. Much love to you all. I can't say thank you enough to everyone involved! If you missed it, we missed you and hope you can join us next year!